In Depth

PBS: ‘P.O.V.’

The PBS documentary film series “P.O.V.” is a Peabody Award winner for Kazuhiro Soda’s “Campaign,” which the awards board called a “revealing, sometimes painfully funny documentary” that “observed the ragged political campaign of a naif handpicked and backed by Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party.”

PBS, Laboratory X, American Documentary, P.O.V. and the Center for Asian American Media all share in the prize.

The film was done in cinema verite style, something that suited “P.O.V.” “It’s very observational and allows the viewers to draw their own conclusions,” said Simon Kilmurry, executive director, American Documentary, and executive producer, “P.O.V.” “[Kazuhiro] doesn’t impose an attitude one way or the other.

“The other thing that we like are stories that shine a light on topics that may be somewhat unfamiliar,” Mr. Kilmurry continued. “So certainly politics is familiar to everyone and campaigns are familiar, but not Japanese politics or Japanese campaigns. For us, it was also particularly timely with so much media coverage of the U.S. elections. This was a look at how another democracy functions in an entirely different culture. It was an interesting contrast.”

The film’s director had a unique take on the film because he knew the subject personally. “Soda actually went to school with the candidate portrayed in the film, and he heard that he had been drafted into running in the election,” said Mr. Kilmurry.

When Yama-san, the candidate, agreed to take part in the film, Mr. Soda began shooting. He shot more than 60 hours of footage over the course of the campaign.

“He really knew the characters involved, and that made a difference in his making the decision to make the film,” said Mr. Kilmurry. “And the way that he works, he’s very much an observational filmmaker. He finds these stories in places where you might not expect them. He’s able to craft and edit them into an interesting narrative.”

For “P.O.V.,” winning this Peabody Award is special, Mr. Kilmurry said. “This is one of the most prestigious stamps of approval ‘P.O.V.’ can receive. We make hard decisions here about what films we decide to work with, so when you get something like a Peabody, you feel like you made the right decisions.”